Language skills are at the heart of the ambitious vision to create a European Education Area. Being able to speak foreign languages is not only a skill needed for studying abroad, but also on increasingly international job markets. Learning languages enables people to both discover foreign cultures and to broaden their perspectives.
However, studies show that EU Member States are not progressing fast enough towards the goal that every European should be able to speak two foreign languages from an early age, set as part of the vision to create a European Education Area.
Language proficiency levels among students at the end of compulsory education are, on average, low across the EU with large discrepancies between Member States.
The Commission has made a proposal for a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages. Its aim is to:
- boost language learning by the end of compulsory education by focusing on achieving specific competence levels, based on the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
- introduce into education and training the concept of language awareness, which provides an inclusive framework for language learning taking into account individuals’ language skills
- ensure that more language teachers have the opportunity to learn and study abroad
- identify and promote innovative, inclusive and multilingual teaching methods using tools and platforms at the EU-level, such as the School Education Gateway and eTwinning
After negotiations between the Commission and EU Member States, the Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages was adopted by education ministers at the Council meeting in Brussels on 22 May 2019. The Commission Staff Working Document provides the scientific and factual background to the Recommendation.